Spotlight On: Da’Nelle Earl, University of Nebraska Track & Field

When looking for some of the top track and field programs in the country it’s easy to see why the Nebraska Huskers are in almost every conversation. Legendary head coach Gary Pepin has a long line of accomplishments in his 37 years at the helm of the Huskers program. In 2005 Da’Nelle Earl joined Coach Pepin’s program and has overseen the program’s operations since. Earl has had her hands in many of the program’s duties over the years including team travel, recruiting, scheduling, and budget management.

We caught up with Da’Nelle to ask her a few questions about her role with the Huskers staff.

Name three things you want to get done in the first two hours of your day: Create a to-do list of what needs to be done by the end of the day and week. Go through all my emails and voicemails and prioritize responses based on importance and respond to those needing addressed immediately. Check in with my head coach in case anything has come up that needs dealt with since the previous day.

Name one go-to resource that helps you with your duties:

Just one is super hard. Here are my top two go-to resources:

1. My outlook calendar.  I put EVERYTHING in there and create reminders (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly) as needed to help ensure nothing gets missed throughout the year.

2. My Notes.  I make notes on everything, especially following home meets, travel and meetings.  I use these constantly when preparing for future events.  What went well, what didn’t go well, where were areas that could improve, did we like that hotel, was the travel schedule good, how did the visiting teams respond to the meet, did the student athletes have the best opportunity to preform and if not how can I improve that, etc. 

If you could go back to your first day on the job and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? Don’t be afraid to set up your own systems for getting things done.  We all utilize different ways that we know work well to keep us on track, organized and headed toward the goal.  Don’t feel like you have to do something a certain way just because that is how it was done before.  Use your own skill set to create systems that work for you. 

Name one new thing you want to accomplish this year? My goal is to serve my coaches and athletes in such a way that allows them to be the best at what they do.  I always want to improve on that.  It’s not new, but it is something I strive to get better at through learning, listening and being open to new ideas.  This year one new specific goal is to utilize Teamworks to communicate and provide our staff and athletes with information relating to home meets and travel and getting information added to Teamworks as early as possible so it is available for them to view well in advance of a competition.  

As you look at the athletic operations field, what is one area that is growing/changing the most? I think the biggest change I have seen in the operations field, especially in the world of track and field, is that becoming a director of operations has become more of a “destination” job and not just a way into coaching.  Every year I am contacted by more high school students, college students and young professionals looking for information on what they can do to get into athletic operations roles and seeking job shadowing opportunities.  It’s exciting to see the field grow!

Read Da’Nelle’s official bio at the University of Nebraska athletics website.

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